Monday, August 14, 2006

Final Pillar: Making service more than an experience

Perhaps you want to know specifics about my service, but sadly, I can give you nothing solid as I don't know those facts myself. I might live in Santiago, or in a rural area called Pocuro. Perhaps I will teach English, or I might bounce around five different jobs for each day of the week and honestly, at times struggle to uncover any meaning and worth in the work I do.

A great friend, Charles Bergman, gave me advice in a goodbye letter he wrote to me. Charles wrote fresh on his return from El Salvador where he studied and served for four months, He says this: " never forget that this is not merely "an experience" like an Alternative Spring Break trip is an experience. This is years of your life! So give up judging it by light bulb moments or monumental breakdowns. These will likely happen, but only in the midst of all the small frustrations and challenges of any daily life. Embrace these frustrations, even rejoice in inevitable boredom! Neither of us are likely to be martyrs, but we can be disciples of a sort. I've come to realize it is often more about small kindnesses than lofty ideals, interpersonal interactions than vague issues. Obviously, you're not naive enough to think injustice can be confronted without paying attention to the ideals and issues. But at some point it started to register with me- and I believe it may have for you as well- that we can only love people, not ideals or issues. Then we start to realize that it is their stories that are the puzzle pieces we have been trying to assemble for so long."

Father Greg Boyle, a Jesuit and founder of Homeboy Industries takes the place of our sign off quote. Read his 2005 Commencement Speech. It really has become my mantra and can articulate much better my views upon "service" and "justice" and so much more. So sneak some time to read an incredible speech!
Have a wonderful week.

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